Heiken-ji Temple, better known as Kawasaki Daishi, is a Buddhist temple complex that looks like it’s been pulled straight out of a painting.
The original structures of the temple were destroyed by war
Many stores sell Daruma dolls, a special symbol of New Year wishes
It’s an incredibly popular place for hatsumode, a Japanese New Year tradition
The temple is easily accessible from Kawasaki via train.
Catch the Keikyu Main Line at Keikyu Kawasaki Station and get off at Kawasaki Daishi Station. The trip from here is five minutes by foot. Kawasaki-Daishi Station is about 15 minutes from Yokohama Station on the Keikyu Main Line and Keikyu Daishi Line, and 20 or so minutes from Shinagawa Station in Tokyo on the same two lines.
Kawasaki Daishi is the head temple for the Chisan sect of Shingon Buddhism, one of the few remaining forms of Tantric Buddhism in Japan. The large temple complex, which is nearly 900 years old, also honors Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, who lived several centuries before. A sacred image of Kukai is kept in the large main hall.
The Sutra Hall is worth a visit for the more than 1,700 volumes of hand-printed Buddhist sutras and gorgeous religious paintings produced in the Chinese style.
One photo-worthy structure is the brightly painted octagonal pagoda. It is unusual in that most Japanese pagodas have only four sides.
Kawasaki Daishi is a popular destination for Japanese making their hatsumode, or first visit of the year to a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple. Around three million people descend upon Kawasaki Daishi during the Japanese New Year holidays.
Nakamise shopping street leading up to the temple has several restaurants and gift shops where you can find adorable daruma dolls, which in Japan are a symbol of good fortune and tenacity.